Quang Ninh police have arrested a 34-year-old man for trading playing cards marked with a radioactive substance.
Bui Dinh Chung of the northern province’s Cam Pha Town was charged with “stockpiling and trading radioactive materials.” The crime carries between two and 20 years in jail (or life) depending on the amount traded as well as the purpose and consequence of the transaction.
On August 15, Quang Ninh Environment Police raided Chung’s restaurant and found four sets of playing cards containing radioactive elements, Quang Ninh Online reported, without saying how police came to be aware of the case.
Chung confessed to having bought them in Hanoi to sell in the province.
The Quang Ninh Department of Science and Technology determined that the playing cards exceeded radioactive safety levels by 30 times.
The agency’s spokesman Nguyen Minh Thuyet said the radioactive element might have been added to the cards for the purposes of cheating.
“Dishonest players are able to mark and detect cards with radioactive elements using specialized devices,” he told Thanh Nien News.
Another sample sent to the Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology was identified as containing a gamma-ray intensity of nearly 60 keV.
Quang Ninh police are investigating the case further.
Meanwhile, Thanh Nien found radioactive playing cards are widely available in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for VND5 million (US$236) per pack.
Each pack comes with a device that responds to marked cards by transmitting vibrations to the user.
Luu Hanh Dung, a chemistry teacher in Ho Chi Minh City, said radioactive elements can seriously damage human health by causing cancer and brain damage.
“They can also cause a number of birth defects,” she added.